Randy Robbins tells a story that illustrates a reason for Bobby Moegle’s coaching success.
It was 1987, Robbins had just thrown a one-hitter to help Monterey beat Lubbock High, and the Monterey coach stopped short of being satisfied. Way short. Never mind that the Plainsmen had won easily, by the 10-run rule.
“Afterward, we ran 20 foul poles, because we weren’t competing,” Robbins said. “He wasn’t about winning. He was about competing. If you went out and competed, he was happy. But if you didn’t compete, it didn’t matter if you won or lost, he was not very happy.”
Robbins told the story Wednesday night at a reception for Moegle on the Texas Tech campus. The occasion was Moegle’s pending induction to the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. That comes Monday in Waco, where the 79-year-old former coach will be honored for his 40-year career at Monterey, during which he won 1,115 games.
Mike Gustafson, the emcee at Wednesday’s event, drew laughter from the crowd when he said plenty of former Plainsmen could attest to the coach’s “kind, compassionate, caring side.”
In 1984, Gustafson had just cracked the Monterey lineup maybe a week before when the Plainsmen fell behind Coronado 5-0. Gustafson contributed to the awful start by striking out in his first at-bat and letting a ball roll through his legs at shortstop.
Alas, the Plainsmen rallied. They took the lead in the sixth inning when Gustafson, with runners on, lashed a ball past second base that the right fielder overran.
He slid into third, having redeemed himself. To a point.
“I stand up, I’m dumping the dirt out of my pants,” Gustafson said, “and coach Moegle says, ‘Gus, if you could catch a ground ball, you might be a player.’”
Moegle took 13 teams to the state tournament, made the championship game eight times and won four. In the early 1970s, the hard-edged young coach won two state championships with teams loaded with talent — future pros such as Donnie Moore, Larry Horn, Gary Ashby and Jimmy Shankle. In 1981, he won with a cinderella bunch. In 1996, the twilight of his career, he led a team with a granddad-to-grandsons age gap to another state title.
Even coaches who toil at levels higher than high school can appreciate that.
“There’s no question in my mind — and this started when I got to town — that the greatest coach who’s ever coached in Lubbock, Texas, is Bobby Moegle,” former Tech football coach Mike Leach told the crowd. “And I think that always will be.”
Leach gave an introduction for Moegle during the event at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center. The two and their wives have been close friends since shortly after Leach arrived in Lubbock in December 1999.
“On a few, rare occasions, I’ve been accused of not being kind and compassionate,” Leach said, echoing Gustafson’s words and drawing more laughs. “That may be as a result of hanging out with Bobby Moegle.”
When Leach was hired last year by Washington State, he said the first people he saw at his introduction in Pullman, Wash., were the Moegles.
Leach choked up relating that story, taking a lengthy pause to compose himself.
“I’ve devoted my life to coaching,” said Leach, who started coaching baseball as a teenager. “He’s the greatest example I can think of.”
Gustafson noted the four decades of players who showed up to honor their former coach, saying there was “40 years of love in this room.”
“It’s not the wins and losses, and it’s not the camaraderie you had with them,” Moegle told the crowd. “It’s to see you come out and make good people.”
Pitcher Scott Brand became an eighth-round draft choice and spent four years in the New York Yankees’ farm system after finishing up at Monterey. Even he wasn’t spared Moegle’s occasional grumpy moment.
“I remember we were at El Paso Coronado my junior year,” Brand said, “and I looked down the left-field line, see him and he had both of his hands on his throat, saying, ‘You’re choking.’
“But this (honor) is awesome for him. I love the man. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have signed that contract.
“I wouldn’t be the man I am today. And coach Moegle and (pitching) coach (Travis) Walden helped me mechnically, mentally, physically.”